Plans for a luxury aqua park complex in the centre of Lichfield have emerged following the announcement that Friary Grange Leisure Centre is to close in April 2020.
Unicorn and Imaginary (U+I Group plc), the development partner behind the defunct Friarsgate project, have released plans for the new swimming pool facility to be located on the current B&M Bird Street car park.
Provisionally called Friary Minster PoolWorld, the scheme has been welcomed by local residents who will be affected by the closure of the Friary Grange pool next year.
Dimbles bather Paul Mycock said:
‘It’s great news that this imaginary water world will soon be within walking distance of ‘spoons. I was expecting to have to take the kids to Stowe Pool for a bath next summer, but it does get a bit crowded in there in the hot weather. And it’s not very convenient for the air ambulance.’
U+I director and former District Council leader Rich Richman commented:
‘We welcome the opportunity to partner Lichfield District Council again in another flagship development in the city. Our shareholders were delighted with the risk-free profits generated by our involvement with Friarsgate.
‘The decision to turn Friarsgate into a car park and to redevelop the former B&M store and car park will be announced by the Council in September followed by a public consultation in November.’
B&M merchandise display organiser Brittney Singleton,19, has mixed feelings, she said:
‘I have mixed feelings. I’ll love to spend an afternoon with my five kids on the water slides but I will lose my job when the store closes. I’ve been offered a position at the brand new store on Eastern Avenue but the commute from Netherstowe three days a week would kill me.’
B&M spokesman Simon Aurora insisted that the Market Street store will not be closing despite the launch of the new store, he said:
‘The Market Street store is not closing.
‘Well not until Lichfield District Council increases its offer for our lease. That will be announced in September.’
A Lichfield warranted police officer is facing disciplinary action after being seen walking around town on a Saturday afternoon chatting to local residents and assisting tourists. PC Paul Mycock has been with Staffordshire Police for over 20 years, he said:
‘I am stationed at the new Lichfield base on Eastern Avenue and spend most of my day investigating complaints from people who have been offended by social media posts or arranging for police vehicles to be reliveried for LGBT Pride parades.
‘Last week was a little slow as most complaints related to Boris Johnson and letterboxes, well that’s well above my pay grade.
‘It was a lovely day so I accompanied a colleague out on patrol, she had been ordered to drive around town in circles to give the impression of a strong police presence in the City. She had to alternate her hair style and wear a Michael Fabricant wig on each circuit to complete the illusion .
‘Feeling a little nostalgic I decided to take a walk around town on my old beat, catching up with locals and shopkeepers. Tourists were asking for selfies, assuming that I was part of the deluded local history group that dresses up in period costume.
‘A couple of days later I was called into the Inspector’s climate controlled office and informed that I was to be suspended for behaviour likely to bring the Force into disrepute.’
Staffordshire Police graduate entrant Inspector Bieber, 21, commented:
‘I can’t comment as this is an ongoing enquiry, but what I will say is that such behaviour, interacting directly with the public and addressing their day to day concerns is not what we are here to do and frankly makes the rest of us look bad.’
It is unclear who made the complaint but PC Mycock has his suspicions, he said
‘I have my suspicions. There are certain groups of vigilantes patrolling our streets and parks impersonating police officers.
‘As if the Speed Watch group aren’t irritating enough, we now have the self-styled Lichfield BID Officer Support (LIBIDOS) patrolling the town in para-police officer uniforms chatting to people and helping tourists.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I commend their aims but just like with Catholic priests, scout leaders and swimming coaches, you really do have to wonder about them don’t you?’’
PC Mycock is now planning to take early retirement and hopes to spend his nights with the shadowy vigilante group Lichfield Late Night Listeners.
Anyone who has been touched inappropriately by a vigilante is advised to contact the Daily Mail.
The leader of Lichfield District Council, Cllr Mike Wilcox has confirmed that Friarsgate developer U+I has submitted new plans for the long-awaited city centre scheme.
From behind closed doors Cllr Cocks admitted:
‘The original redevelopment proposal for ten junk food outlets, 15 coffee houses, 26 charity shops, 82 apartments, 11 townhouses, a multi-screen cinema, theme park and a marina linking to the restored Lichfield & Hatherton canal has proven to be undeliverable.
‘A “challenging funding market” has meant that no one is prepared to invest in such a load of bollocks.’
Developer U+I claim to be committed to revitalising the gateway to the city. Deputy Chief executive Richard Upton was still at primary school when he came up with the original proposals. He said:
‘I always loved Lego as a kid and built my own Lichfield city centre out of plastic bricks in my bedroom. But now I am older and have to put away childish fantasies for a more pragmatic solution.’
Details are still being worked out but, in a statement prepared by Mr Upton, Cllr Cocks read:
‘We have a new vision for this great city – a car showroom and vehicle hire facility on the corner of Birmingham Road and a new bus station between the showroom and Debenhams with retail kiosks selling and hiring cycles.’
Mr Upton is sure that funding will be forthcoming for such an innovative proposal. Taking time out from opening other new retail developments up and down the country, he said:
‘This plan will deliver the perfect fusion of the desire of Lichfield’s Council tax payers for superior shopping facilities with the means of transport to access such facilities, by car or coach it’s just ten minutes down the road to Ventura Retail Park in Tamworth.
‘And if you look closely you’ll notice a number of significant milestones on the way.’
Addressing concerns that the abandonment of the original proposals could open the door to a more lucrative residential development on the Friarsgate site Cllr Crocks was told to comment:
‘Such a suggestion is ridiculous, as everyone knows that lucrative residential development is planned for the Bird Street car park.’
Lichfield District Council has drawn up proposals to increase car parking in Beacon Street and surrounding residential areas.
A report to Lichfield District Council has suggested increasing the town centre car parking costs and encouraging drivers to park in nearby residential streets free of charge.
The council could see a rise of around £2.15m per year if a parking charge of £10 per hour were to be introduced. This takes into account loss of revenue from visitors who would seek to avoid the charges by parking in Cherry Orchard and the BSTARDS occupied territory.
The council will also seek to increase the hours of charge, extending them to 8pm. A council spokesman said:
‘A seemingly modest extension of the time will in fact catch most people who will come into the city for an early evening dinner reservation or a show We hope that the increase in revenue will more than cover the council’s financial commitment to the Garrick.’
The report to the local authority also said:
‘We also recommend upgrading ticketing machines so that they can record the whole of a vehicle registration number thereby increasing the chance of customer default by an incorrect input. However we do suggest retaining the machines inability to dispense change or to accept coins that were minted post-1995.’
BSTARDS interferer-in-chief, Mr S Sprite, 98, was uncharacteristically unavailable for comment having temporarily lost all control of his bodily functions on hearing the news.
The new Friarsgate development will not add to congestion in Lichfield, it has been claimed.+
In a joint statement Lichfield District Council leader Mike Chuckle and joint venture partners LegoLand and Bang Olufsen chief executive Jorgen Turdskorp said:
‘We are in the process of piecing together the final blocks of this exciting new development. Central to the design strategy will be the need to improve congestion in the City.
‘Our proposal is for Birmingham Road, St John Street and Upper St John Street to be converted into permanent car park facilities, The space previously earmarked for a multi-story car park could then be more profitably utilised.’
Local self-styled councillors-in-exile, BSTARDS, based in Beacon Street, welcomed the plans. Interferer-in-chief, 87 year-old Sidney Sprite commented:
‘BSTARDS welcomes any innovative solution to the city’s problems that don’t involve Beacon Street.
‘Converting City Centre roads into car parks is a no brainer. Most people won’t notice the difference as traffic is stationary on these roads for the best part of the day anyway.’
‘I propose that the Midlands Air Ambulance be permanently stationed on the top deck of the car park site. This will save vital minutes in helicopter deployment to scoop up victims of road carnage which is a daily event on the A38 around the City.’
The possible release of the proposed site for alternative uses has also attracted the attention of local God-botherers. The Burntwood Church of the Inexplicable having taken on that town’s defunct No.7 Club (now the rebranded No.Heaven Club) Pastor Sandy and his sister and wife Liz have turned their attention to the City.
Pastor Sandy said:
‘As the lightning flashes from west to east so shall be the coming of Jesus to smite the moneylenders and fornicators within the Wall.
‘Coffee mornings Wednesday at 10.30, all welcome.’
Cllr Chuckle added:
‘This has been a momentous week in local politics, not only have we solved the traffic flow problems through the City centre by declaring all former access roads to be car parks, but by rejecting the invitation of the Socialist Militant Trotskyist Corbynista Councils to join the West Midland Combined Authority, we have jettisoned all hope of inward investment in local transport and economic development for a generation.
‘But on the plus side we’ve still got The Garrick.’
Furious London based desk jockey journalists on the Daily Mail have slammed a group of Burntwood yobs who, the Mail claim, have vandalised a Christmas tree dedicated to teen cancer hero Stephen Sutton.
Hundreds of yellow ribbons had been tied to The Sacred Tree which was erected in the late teenager’s town of Burntwood, Staffordshire last weekend.
But just days after his proud mother Jane switched on the lights in front of hundreds of supporters, the winter weather combined with poor tethering techniques caused half a dozen ribbons to be torn mercilessly from the branches of The Sacred Tree.
In response to the Daily Mail’s orchestrated outrage organisers say they may now be forced to erect giant fences around the tree to prevent future attacks by feral youths who had nothing whatsoever to do with the incident and have nothing but respect for the late teen hero .
The yellow ribbons became a nationwide symbol of Stephen’s battle with cancer as he raised £5m for the Teenage Cancer Trust before his death in May. He touched people across the world when a bucket list containing the 46 things he hoped to do before his death went viral.
Stephen died in May aged just 19 after losing his fight with the disease.
His mother, 50, collected her son’s posthumous MBE from the Queen last month.
Family friend and self-publicist Joanne Jarvis, who organised the tree ribbon tribute, said she had been contacted by the Daily Mail and had been left either ‘gutted’ or ‘gob-smacked’ by the incident.
‘I am absolutely ‘gutted’ and/or ‘gob-smacked’. I have been in tears, how can the local climate be so disrespectful.’
‘Following their in depth London desk based investigative journalism, the Daily Mail told us that it was definately the local, probably Eastern European immigrant, yobs who were responsible. But we now know for certain they were pulled off by the wind, although admittedly the batter mix at Sankey’s Fish Bar may be implicated.
‘I am just disgusted, as I’m sure all Daily Mail feeders will be.’
Ironically Mrs Jarvis came up with the scheme to decorate the tree in yellow bows after noticing that those put up during Stephen’s fight around the town had begun to weather.
Now fellow residents are calling for the culprit to be punished.
Jeremy French, 45, a welder who lives nearby, said:
‘It’s disgusting, there is no way you would imagine something like this should happen. Fucking wind and rain in Burntwood in December, the police need to get looking at CCTV and find these areas of low pressure and punish them as soon as possible.’
Anne Timber, 67, added:
‘You just wonder about some people these days, they can barely read around here but they’re buying the Daily Mail and believing every picture they see. I hope they get what is coming to them. If local residents found out who did this I there would be hell to pay, Stephen was such a shining light for our community I can’t help but think his shining light has contributed to global climate change that resulted in the climatic turbulence that tore five ribbons from The Sacred Tree.’
Burntwood Town Council officer Brian Cooper said it wasn’t the first time the town’s Christmas tree had been targeted by the weather.
‘In previous years the winter weather has pushed the tree around but we sincerely hoped that with this year, being dedicated to Stephen Sutton, the Winter Gods of Burntwood wouldn’t do it.
‘However, they have knocked a handful of bows off, which we have reattached.’We hope this will be the end of it. But if it does happen again we will not have much choice but to pick them up and reattach them to the sacred tree.’
Local yobs deny any involvement in the desecration. Lead yob DJ Yobbi Yobster commented:
‘Respect to Stephen Sutton, right, he was a real cool dude and sure welcome to join the posse down on Redwood Wildlife Park nights whenever man. Mind out for all the dog shit and human excrement though, know what I’m sayin?
‘Not sure I do, but we’re good guys just looking for a chance to shine. Please…’
Staffordshire Police confirmed they were investigating and that super arch villain, former BBC weatherman Michael Fish has been arrested and released on police bail pending further enquiries.
The Daily Mail was unavailable for comment as Kim Kardashian has got her arse out again. But not in Burntwood.
Local MP Michael Fabricant was unavailable for comment, safely within the Wall, in Waitrose, so to speak.
London Midland has admitted that the Cross City line timetable is “a work of fiction” and will be scrapped with effect from Monday, 3 November.
Mark Goodall, Head of Cross City Services said:
‘Passengers using the route that runs from the Walled City of Lichfield in the north, through The Badlands and on to Redditch, will not notice any difference in the quality of the service. We guarantee the quality of service will remain poor.
‘But because we’re abandoning timetabled arrival/departure times there will be far less disappointment and frustration. I think that passengers would much prefer a train that turns up at all rather than get themselves all angry because a train’s half an hour late.’
If successful this ‘no timetable’ service will be rolled out across the network. Mr Goodall continued:
‘A large part of London Midland’s budget is absorbed by timetabling, inaccurate station announcements, complaints handling, twitter feed apologies and iPhone apps. These costs could be virtually eliminated if the timetable is scrapped.’
Sidney Sprite, 86, is a daily commuter and member of BSARA, a Lichfield group of irritating self-appointed “Shadow Councillors in Exile”. Mr Sprite said:
‘Whilst in keeping with BSARA policy I object to absolutely everything, on this occasion however I may give London Midland the benefit of the doubt. If I don’t have to spend three hours a week writing letters of complaint to LM, sending pompous tweets and claiming refunds for delayed trains then overall I could dedicate much more time to patrolling Beacon Street and way beyond looking for outrage.’
Brittany Singleton, a 22 year-old mother of 5 from Burntwood is also pleased with the new arrangements:
‘It’s a bit like when your fella says “I’ll be home by 9” and then he isn’t, well I just want to stab the bastard when he comes through the door. But if he’s honest and says he don’t know when or if he’ll be home then that’s fine, I’ll open a bottle of White Lightening and go bed. ‘Same with the trains really, not that I travel by train, or go to work for that matter.’
Mark Goodall of London Midland explained:
‘We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the misery of rail travel. We’ll review the position again in the summer but what with the effect of the coefficient of expansion miscalculations and crew winging a sicky on sunny Friday afternoons, I’m not holding my breath.’
The key advice for passengers is ‘Work From Home’.
Following the disturbing news earlier this year that many Lichfield District Councillors have reading difficulties, it has emerged this week that councillors on the LDC Planning Committee have been forced to go on a training course entitled ‘How to Avoid Making Indefensible Decisions’.
With barely-concealed disdain, officers have produced a Briefing Paper to be considered at the meeting of the Planning Committee this evening (Monday 13 October). This informs Council members of the costs associated with an appeal against their refusal of planning for 6 poultry units at Cleat Hill Farm, Syerscore Lane, Haunton (Ref 11/01074/FULMEI).
The refusal by the Planning Committee on 13 March 2013, contrary to the professional planning officer’s detailed and reasoned recommendation, resulted in a 4-day Public Enquiry in December 2013.
Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead LL.B BSc(Hons) CEng MICE commented:
‘As you can see from my list of qualifications I am very intelligent; I’ve tried to be as understanding as possible, but it’s very difficult to be anything less than patronising with local authority planning committees when they are populated by more egos than brains.’
Not only did the Inspector allow the appeal but, in a subsequent hearing, he also awarded costs against the Lichfield council tax payers. Inspector Whitehead commented:
‘I found that the Council’s reasons for refusal were not unreasonable, given the high threshold of incompetence that we must apply to locally-elected idiots, but the applicant has incurred expense in providing unnecessary expert evidence on appeal regarding the impact of flies, chicken shit and traffic’
The total amount of the award for costs to be paid by Lichfield council tax payers has now been settled at £15,228.71. In addition the council tax payers have had to pay the Council’s own costs in defending the appeal conservatively estimated to be a further £17,200.
Taking time out from prosecuting single parents who fiddle their housing benefits to feed their children and from seeking to recover £50,000 sent in error to a local mum, Cabinet Member for Finance Councillor Christopher Spruce said:
‘These costs add significant additional pressure on budgets and resources that were unforeseen, well they were unforeseen by us anyway. Going forward I expect that no further errors will be made once all the members have completed their “How to Avoid Making Indefensible Decisions” training.’
Whilst delighted to have his original judgement vindicated by the appeal, the local planning officer who made the recommendation has concerns for the future. The officer, who did not wish to be named, said:
‘The costs of the appeal amount to some £32,000. These costs have to be found from somewhere. Coincidentally my salary is £32,000.’
Council chairman David “S” Smith also commented:
‘The costs of the appeal amount to some £32,000. These costs have to be found from somewhere. Coincidentally my luxury chauffeur-driven BMW cost £32,000.’
In other cost saving moves, the Council has decided to drop objections to HS2 and will not be sending members to the hearing of the Parliamentary Select Committee this week. The Council also has no intention of being represented by Cabinet Members at this week’s Local Plan hearings. Council Leader Mike Wilcox commented:
‘This demonstrates the Council’s commitment to costs savings, the less we do the more you save. “To Me to You” so to speak.
‘And anyway I hear that the developers barristers have given us a right good mauling, why would I want to put myself up for that?’
The Leader of Lichfield District Council believes work on a modified and radical Friarsgate development could finally get underway.
Cllr Michael Wilcox made his comments following a tormented, Merlot induced, sleep after Wednesday’s meeting of the Strategic (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee of Lichfield District Council. The Council concluded that the City was heading for a fiscal cliff of over £1m if the original scheme had gone ahead.
The new £100 scheme will consist of shops and leisure provision, including a multi-screen cinema, a marina, a beach and herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically down Birmingham Road.
Development work is now expected to start immediately and should be completed by the end of February. Cllr Wilcox explained:
‘In the light of budgetary constraints it has been decided that the existing development agreement with S Harrison for the Friarsgate project will be terminated. I had expected their completed development to be delivered to us on time in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and again in 2013 but there is only so often that you can issue the same press release without looking like a complete fool.
‘In its place your Council will create a Virtual Friarsgate shopping and leisure centre. This online virtual reality cityscape will only be accessible from computers and mobile devices located within the city centre.’
Customers will be able to take a virtual tour of the shopping centre, calling in and shopping at Boots, Next, Marks & Spencer, Harvey Nichols and many other stores that rejected the bricks and mortar destination.
For those without the benefit of mobile computing, a new IT suite will be created within the coffee shop of Debenhams in Three Spires Shopping Centre. A spokesman for Debenhams, Mike Taylor commented:
‘We are delighted to support this initiative. Our store is in fact already a Virtual Debenhams, being much smaller than our other outlets and stocking only one item of a very limited product range. In the likely event that you want something that we do not have in stock you’re welcome to go to the Bullring.’
Additional terminals will also be available in the Lichfield Library, however there will only be limited access as the Library is never open at times when the public wish to use the facility and, in any event, all the staff will shortly be sacked and Library’s resources transferred to Stafford.
It will also provide a boost for local bar restaurant Malt, the pretty blonde girl who works there at weekends said:
‘We have put together a special ‘shoppers package’ with discounts for virtual shoppers who can enjoy fish and chips for £5 whilst awaiting the delivery of their shopping from proper retail centres within two hours of placing the online order in Virtual Lichfield.
‘I’m certainly looking forward to being able to get hold of a wider range of beauty products from Virtual Lichfield. And stop following me,’ she added.
Cllr Wilcox declared the proposal helps deliver the Council’s F4FS policy: ‘As a city we need to work together – To Me, To You, that’s my mantra.’
Beacon Street Area Residents Association (BASTARDS) spokesman Martin Littleone said:
‘We are against this proposal, it will attract illegal immigrants into my living room.’
Anyone wishing to complain about the delay in the original proposals should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A pothole that appeared in the road surface opposite Chandlers ‘toilet with en suite cafe’ at the corner of Beacon Street/Swan Road over six months ago has been looked into by the Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association (BSARA) and remains unresolved.
BSARA was established in 2001 with a broad remit to enable local residents to collectively lobby on potholes, wheelie bins, Newcastle United scum and any other pressing issues troubling the public-spirited pensioners on the committee.
Committee member Mr Sidney Sprite, 85, commented: ‘Potholes are more than just a nuisance, they can be a real danger especially to elderly pedestrians trying to find their way back to St. Andrews House and to blind cyclists.’
The Ego Hole, as it has become known, resulted from a collapse of the road surface in Beacon Street over the previous six months. Although some rudimentary repairs have been carried out, a final solution is still proving elusive.
The problem was originally reported to Staffs County Highways in July via FixMyStreet, the website for citizens troubled by dog faeces and illegally parked cars.
Charles Chevron, a Highways surveyor, insists: ‘This was a ‘drainage’ issue rather than a ‘highways’ issue so I referred it to South Staffs Water.’
Keith Marshall, acting MD of South Staffordshire Water plc admitted: ‘I’m not remotely interested.’
‘Nor am I,’ added local councillor Terry Finn (C0n).
But help was at hand in the form of local lad Sam Wheeler. The 25-year old labourer, currently employed on the LEGO Award nominated Friary Phase 1 development told Five Spires Live:
‘As a cycling enthusiast I was sick of listening to club members moaning about the Ego Hole, so last Saturday night I had a few bevvies with my mates, got some stuff from the building site and went and filled it in. Any hole’s a goal on a Saturday night.’
BSARA’s Mr Sprite is delighted: ‘The lad’s done a great job, though frankly he’s not really Beacon Street material.’
If you live in the Beacon Street area, enjoy writing letters to the Lichfield Mercury and satisfy the age requirement you can join BSARA through their website http://www.beaconstreetresidentsara.organ